Further Information

Brief Secondhand Smoke Exposure Depresses Endothelial Progenitor Cells Activity and Endothelial Function | Christian Heiss, Nicolas Amabile,Andrew C. Lee,Wendy May Real,Suzaynn F. Schick, David Lao, Maelene L. Wong, Sarah Jahn, Franca S. Angeli, Petros Minasi, Matthew L. Springer, S. Katharine Hammond, Stanton A. Glantz, William Grossman, John R. Balme
Article Published: 2008

Type: Experimental and Technical
Published By: Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Vol. 51, No. 18

Further Information


In a nutshell, the core of the misrepresentation consists in purporting commonly experienced and ephemeral effects as particular, permanent and worrisome conditions.

The father of this new way of fooling the public is Stanton Glantz, whose “methodology” of taking very short, selected segments of a phenomenon (i.e.: cherry-picked transient decreases of hospitalizations following on smoking bans, bereft of perspective on the long term, to show that ETS “causes” heart attacks) has been adopted by his comrades at the ministries of health of Italy, Ireland, England and France just to mention a few. In one of his interviews with FORCES and in several of his blogs, the critical antitobacco activist Doctor Michael Siegel explains the trick of those who are knowingly and deliberately deceiving the public to earn their hefty pharmaceutical grants.

Specifically, when it comes to the pharmaceutical stooges of the Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation, to which Glanz belongs, the Pharma money is particularly abundant — click here, and here, and here —  to keep the antismoking disinformation flowing.

With this junk study the intent is to “confirm” previous scam jobs to the effect that smoking bans decrease heart attack hospitalizations. Ostensible transient changes in blood test results are presented so as to influence media parroting of a ludicrous scare: "Inhaling second-hand smoke for as little as half-an-hour damages blood vessels and can lead to heart attacks and strokes, a study has found."

Michael Siegel explains the scam:

The study provides absolutely no evidence that a mere 30 minutes of tobacco smoke exposure increases the risk of an individual suffering a heart attack. There are many exposures and factors which can cause endothelial dysfunction similar to that observed in the recent study. For example, mental stress has, like secondhand smoke exposure, been found to cause transient endothelial dysfunction (see: Spieker et al. Mental stress induces prolonged endothelial dysfunction via endothelin-A receptors. Circulation 2002; 105:2817-2820 and Ghiadoni et al. Mental stress induces transient endothelial dysfunction in humans. Circulation 2000; 102;2473-2478).

The authors of these studies of the effects of mental stress interpreted and reported the results of their studies properly. They explained that their results suggest a mechanism for the observed effects of chronic mental stress on heart disease. For example, Ghiadoni et al. conclude as follows: ‘These findings suggest that brief episodes of mental stress, similar to those encountered in everyday life, may cause transient (up to 4 hours) endothelial dysfunction in healthy young individuals. This might represent a mechanistic link between mental stress and atherogenesis.’

Note that the authors' conclusion is that brief episodes of mental stress may, if repeated over time, lead to the atherosclerotic process. The authors do not conclude that their study demonstrates that an individual exposed to brief mental stress is at a risk of suffering a heart attack.

It is especially misleading to make an unqualified claim that 30 minutes of secondhand smoke exposure can cause a heart attack in an otherwise healthy person. Unfortunately, many anti-smoking groups are making precisely such a claim.

One such example is the Canadian Lung Association, which claims on its website: "Just 30 minutes' exposure to second-hand smoke hardens your arteries (arteriosclerosis)."

This is obviously not just a misleading statement, but an inaccurate and absurd one. There is no way that 30 minutes of secondhand smoke exposure can cause the arteries to harden. Atherosclerosis is a process which takes more than just 30 minutes. It takes many years.

While the intention of the researchers and groups making these misleading and unsupported statements is to promote the passage of smoking bans, I believe that this exaggeration and distortion of the science is actually going to hurt the cause. There is only so much that the public is going to take. When they realize that anti-smoking groups are actually stating that 30 minutes of secondhand smoke is enough to cause hardening of the arteries, a process that takes many years, the public is going to come to believe that the anti-smoking movement is a joke, or at least that its science leaves a lot to be desired.

Doctor Siegel is to be commended for debunking this umpteenth example of transparent fraudulence and scare-mongering concocted by fanatics to serve fanatical ends. We agree that the public is learning to disbelieve and scorn the antitobacco movement. We add that studies on decades of "passive smoking" exposure do not either support prohibitionist claims of "risk." As public indignation at junk science and scare-mongering grows the day grows closer for a return to sane policy, social cohesion, personal dignity, and free choice.

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